Timey Wimey

A Classic Movie Easter Egg Proves Doctor Who Is Radically Switching Genres

A 1960s Easter egg reveals what many fans already suspected.

Ncuti Gatwa in 'Doctor Who.'
Doctor Who

Last year, when Ncuti Gatwa made his debut as the 15th Doctor in “The Giggle,” and then, in his first full adventure, “The Church on Ruby Road,” fans were already starting to ask one question: could this be the moment when Doctor Who bursts into song? Because the goblins had a musical number in the 2023 Christmas special, and Gatwa was one of the singing and dancing Kens in 2023’s Barbie, is Doctor Who — like Star Trek: Strange New Worldsabout to drop a full-on musical episode?

In December 2023, Gatwa playfully told Inverse, There is a chance,” of a musical episode in the newly-minted 2024 Doctor Who Season 1. And now, with the latest trailer, one Easter egg presents nearly incontrovertible proof this musical episode is coming. Here’s why one slick 1960s film reference seems to mean that Doctor Who is switching genres from sci-fi to musical sci-fi very soon. Spoilers ahead.

While the new Doctor Who trailer is set to David Bowie’s 1971 hit, “Changes,” the trailer also drops several scenes from an episode set in the 1960s. we’ve known about this episode for a while, and a previous trailer even revealed that the Doctor and Ruby might briefly meet the Beatles in this story. But an even more specific 1964 reference could reveal that yes, this episode might be a full-blown musical.

The Umbrellas of Cherbourg in Doctor Who

Is this Doctor Who moment proof of a full-on musical?


In a few quick shots of the latest Doctor Who trailer, we see several people in 1960s fashion dancing and singing in the rain. You might think this is an overt reference to the 1952 musical Singin' in the Rain, but the overall look and feel of these quick scenes is much closer to a 1964 French musical called The Umbrellas of Cherbourg. This classic musical drama is actually a straight-up tragic love story, and as such, inspired the bittersweet musical La La Land, 52 years later.

The Umbrellas of Cherbourg is a recitative style of musical, meaning that people are singing constantly, which, for those who don’t know a ton about musicals, means that it’s sonically like Les Misérables on steroids. There isn’t really a break for “regular” dialogue in The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, it’s all singing all the time.

A poster from The Umbrellas Of Cherbourg, for its color release.

LMPC/LMPC/Getty Images

Doctor Who: How many musicals?

Based on the trailer, it seems likely that the forthcoming ‘60s episode of Doctor Who could be a musical, or at the very least, feature musical numbers. But is that all? In another episode this season, Jonathan Groff will guest star in a story set in Britain's Regency era. Groff is well-known for his musical abilities, having starred in Hamilton, Glee, and both Frozens. So, if Groff’s Regency episode is a musical, is the ‘60s episode just one of many musical episodes this season?

On top of all of this Jinkx Monsoon appears in the new season as a villain at some point, and in the trailer we see musical notes being deployed by her character as some kind of spell. We don’t know if she’s in multiple episodes, or the ‘60s episode, or the Regency episode, but clearly, the power of music is a big theme in the new Doctor Who season.

The next Doctor Who season may not be one big non-stop musical, but based on the trailer, and everything we know about it, it's shaping up to possibly be the most musical-influenced sci-fi TV season, ever.

Doctor Who Season 1 (2024) hits Disney+ on May 10.

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